Stable and radiogenic isotope analyses have become fundamental tools for researchers in biological anthropology and related disciplines seeking to reconstruct the movement of humans and material culture across the landscape. Radiogenic strontium (87Sr/86Sr) and stable oxygen (δ 18O) are among the most widely applied tracers of movement, although other isotopes have been used. Increasingly, researchers are critiquing the use of isotope measurements on archaeological/paleontological hard tissues for identifying non-local individuals without first establishing environmental isotopic baselines and understanding the nuances of the isotopic system within the study area. In response to these critiques and broader shifts in isotope studies, anthropologists have increasingly turned to isoscapes—spatially-explicit models of predicted values interpolated from baseline measurements at known locations—to constrain the geographic range of sample residence.
The use of isoscapes derived from modern samples for provenience and dietary investigations of humans, primates, and artifacts can be limited by several factors. For example, isotope studies must consider how paleoclimate, seasonality, water storage, organismal metabolism, and breastfeeding can alter sample values from baseline expectations. Radiogenic strontium studies can be hindered by ambiguous definitions of bioavailable elemental content in baseline soil samples. More broadly, isotope studies must deal with challenges like non-systematic collection of baseline samples (or sampling inappropriate baseline proxies), our changing understanding of biological fractionation, evolving methods for detecting diagenesis, difficulty parsing dietary shifts from mobility shifts, and the inadequacy of established geostatistical methods for isoscape construction in some study environments.
This session calls researchers to grapple with the unique challenges of isotopic provenience studies for human tissues and associated artifacts. By comparing techniques and interpretive frameworks, we seek to advance isotopic methods in Anthropology and clarify how they can address key questions about human mobility as an adaptation to environmental and cultural changes in the past, present, and future.
|Discussant: Gabriel Bowen|
|1||Single and Dual Isoscape Models for Establishing Local Strontium and Oxygen Isotope Signatures of Human Skeletons in the Prehistoric Andes. Beth K. Scaffidi, Kelly Knudson, Tiffiny Tung.|
|2||Telling different stories: Oxygen and strontium isotope variation in human tissues and baseline data from the northern coast of Peru. J. Marla Toyne, Kelly J. Knudson, Christine D. White, Fred J. Longstaffe.|
|3||Strontium isotope variability (87Sr /86Sr) in the ancient Nile Valley (Egypt and Nubia): Establishing baseline data and tracking human mobility. Sarah Schrader, Michele Buzon, Antonio Simonetti.|
|4||Sulfur isotopes in modern deer bones of Virginia – establishing a δ34S isoscape for archaeological studies of East Coast North Americans. Christine A.M. France, Julianne J. Sarancha.|
|5||Strontium isotope variability in the Palauan archipelago: Preliminary results from the Chelechol ra Orrak site. Jessica H. Stone, Scott M. Fitzpatrick, George D. Kamenov, John Krigbaum.|
|6||The Development and Application of Caribbean Isoscapes for Investigating Geographic Origins. Jason Laffoon.|
|7||Predicting local bioavailable 87Sr/86Sr isotopes and similarity search in multi-dimensional isotope data sets. Andrea Goehring, Gisela Grupe, Fabiola Lengfelder.|
|8||Ostrich eggshell diagenesis experiments and observations: Implications for isoscape analyses. Stanley H. Ambrose, Andrew M. Zipkin.|
|9||Strontium isoscapes and hard tissue provenience in southern Africa to reconstruct hunter-gatherer social and exchange networks. Andrew M. Zipkin, Erich C. Fisher, Hayley C. Cawthra, Gwyneth Gordon, Martin Hipondoka, Petrus Le Roux, Curtis W. Marean, Kelly J. Knudson, Polly Wiessner.|
|10||"You are what you eat," but are humans too complicated for dietary mixing models?: A critique of human paleodiet reconstructions. Melanie M. Beasley.|
|12||Reconstructing life histories using strontium isotope ratios of cremated human remains. Christophe Snoeck, Melanie M. Beasley, Dawnie W. Steadman.|